KQ pilots call for overhaul of airline board and management

Kenya Airways is still reeling from the impact of Covid-19 which continues to evolve, the degree of recovery that the aviation industry achieved in 2021 now threatened by the Omicron variant. [File, Standard]

Kenya Airways pilots are pushing for an overhaul of the carrier’s management and board, arguing that current management cannot turn the airline around.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) wants the board to be made up of industry professionals who work directly with KQ.

In a proposed structure, the pilot lobby said board members should be drawn from actors from related sectors such as the aviation industry, horticulture, travel and tourism. The sectors work directly with KQ on a daily basis.

It would be a departure from the current scenario where investors dictate who sits on the carrier’s board of directors, which Kalpa says has not been very successful in recent years.

He also proposed an overhaul of the management structure. “New leadership is needed, which has a different management style; people who will augur well with the employees on the ground and instill the confidence that the Kenyan taxpayer needs to invest in the business, ”Kalpa said in a public notice.

“Post-Covid, the board should include aviation professionals and key relevant stakeholders other than investors.” He noted: “A new organizational structure should be established with a direct focus on core KQ functions and sources of revenue generation for the airline and the country as a whole… qualified Kenyans should be considered in priority.

The powerful pilot lobby has in the past been instrumental in the departure of senior airline officials, including a chief executive officer and chairman. The association also wants improved relations between management and employees of the airline, noting that the icy relationship has affected work in the airline.

“Incoming management must rebuild the dynamic team spirit that was once there. Employee well-being is key. Disregard of what largely affects employee morale, confidence and loyalty, little can be done. be accomplished without passionate and patriotic employees, ”Kalpa said.

Kalpa said the airline could save huge sums of money through a review of its procurement process. He noted that the carrier paid on average “more than the industry average” for many goods and services procured from different suppliers.

He recommends getting rid of its Embraer fleet, which is mainly used by Jambojet for its local and regional flights. Instead, the lobby wants KQ to only operate Boeing-made planes, which have greater cargo and passenger capacity – both for regional and long-haul flights.

“The Embraer E190, with a capacity of 96 seats and a cargo payload of 3.3 tonnes, is not optimized for the majority of profitable regional routes, unlike the versatile Boeing 737 passenger aircraft,” said Kalpa, adding that “reorganizing the airline’s fleet into one type of manufacturer will reduce rental rates, spare parts costs, transient and recurring training costs, and time.”

Kalpa also wants Jambojet and KQ to stop flying to the same local and regional destinations and instead play complementary roles. Kalpa’s proposals come even as the carrier grapples with the possibility of not being nationalized.

KQ was in favor of nationalizing the carrier, which he said would put it in a better position to compete and strengthen Nairobi’s position as a continental aviation hub.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report noted that instead of nationalization, the state will launch a multi-year restructuring program of 147 billion shillings ($ 1.3 billion) that includes the assumption of its debts.

The Treasury will take over KQ’s debts worth 93.5 billion shillings. It will offer the airline 53.5 billion shillings in direct budget support to write off debts and cover the initial costs of the restructuring.

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